Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Compliment a Day, and an Award

I am feeling really lazy, so instead of working on a new post, I am recycling one that I wrote in July 2008 .

A compliment a Day
“Hey, that’s a really pretty dress. You look great in it.”
“I’ll kill to have hair like yours. How do you keep it looking so good.”
‘That colour really suits you – I do think peacock blue is a most beautiful colour, don’t you?”
“Where did you get that handbag – I have been looking for something just like that for ages.”

There are better places to be in than the early morning local train on Mumbai’s Western line. In fact, there are better places to be in than Mumbai.
Get woken up by the ringing of the alarm clock at 7 am, brush your teeth before you are fully awake, stumble into the kitchen, nearly burn your tongue gulping down a scalding cup of tea, shower, change, check that you have your purse, mobile and keys in your hand-bag, pick up the daily paper and tuck it unread under your arm, bang the front door shut, hail three autos before the fourth agrees to take you to Bandra station, fret and fume at the traffic lights, silently curse the pedestrians who prefer walking in front of your auto to being on the pavement, rush onto the over-bridge, grab the last remaining seat on the 8:57 local, catch your breath, open the newspaper to check if the government has fallen or India has lost yet another cricket match.
No wonder then, the only expression you see on people’s faces is a vacant one. Surviving in this City is so tough, who has the time to Live?

Which is where the compliments come in.
The unwritten rules of Mumbai local trains are clear. You avoid eye contact and NEVER speak to someone you do not know. But one day, I found myself standing next to a lady wearing such a pretty dress, I couldn’t but comment on it. She was clearly shocked that a total stranger had complimented her, and barely managed to stammer out a thanks, but five minutes later, I found that a secret smile was still playing around her lips.
Without intending to, I had introduced some colour into an otherwise grey existence, and I was sure that in her current state, she would inadvertently pass her cheer along – a seat given up on the connecting bus, a receptionist greeted with more than a polite nod, perhaps another compliment that made someone else’s day.
I decided then and there to pass one genuine compliment every morning. It had to be sincere – if your nose is red from sneezing, you know the person doesn’t mean it when you are told you are looking great – and it had to be something the person herself believed could be true. To make one person happy per day, everyday.
What is one person in a city of over twenty million? Does one person even matter among the six million that uses local trains everyday. Maybe not, but if even some of those people pass the happiness along, and some of the people they pass the message onto pass the message along further… well, you do the maths!
And even if they do not, making one person happier for a couple of minutes is better than nothing at all.

And since we are talking about compliments, Al over from Publish or Perish made me blush (even beneath my enviable natural tan) while passing on the Sunshine Award to me. "Rayna is from Bombay in India", he said, "and blogs about life as she sees it. I would encourage you to visit- Rayna has an interesting take on many aspects of life."

Thank you, Al. I really cherish the Award, and your kind words, even if it has taken me nearly three months to acknowledge both publicly. And if you haven't visited Al yet, you should- not only is he a few weeks (months?) for self-publishing his novel, he is an awesome photographer, and you always find some wonderful nuggets on his blog.

Al passed it onto twelve bloggers, and I guess I would have to restrict myself to the same number. Which is hard, because if sunshine makes my day, every one of you is my sunshine. But let me try and pick a dozen, and to make life a little easier for me, I am sticking to people I already knew when Al passed this award on. In no particular order -

Jane Kennedy Sutton - for being such a wonderfully positive person- if I hadn't seen one particular post of her's several months back, I would have thought she didn't have a care in teh world, except to spread happiness
Marian Youngblood - I named a flower after her, 'nuff said
Hart Johnson - no list of Sunshines would be complete without my Thursday Twin
Clarissa Draper - in this life and a past one, she has always been my sunshine
Jan Morrison - has it been only about six months that I have known her? Seems like forever.
Dipali Taneja - a chance comment that I almost did not leave on a blog of a friend who I happened to meet because of a series of accidents got Dipali to my blog. If that is not Serendipity, what is? We were just meant to be
Lady Fiona - she's got snow in her backyard, while I am sweating gallons everyday. We live in such diverse places, but have so much in common
Diane L. Wolfe - she's promoting her fifth Circle of Friends book, but still finds time to leave insightful comments- oh that I could be like her
Elizabeth Spann Craig - another incredible lady - not only are each of her blog posts a gem, her comments show how well she's read your post
Patricia Stoltey - my first blog Award came from her, but even otherwise, she would have been up there on my list of personal Sunshines
Mason Canyon - not only does she put a lot of effort into making her blogs interesting for us, she's always there with a comment
Sonia Marsh - there is so much I admire about this lady, I can't start to ennumerate them

There it is a dozen ladies who are each my Sunshine. And I haven't even started listing the people I met in blogland in the last 75 days. With so much Sunshine, no wonder it is so hot here.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Aw, thank you!
And we often feel lost in a sea of humanity - one compliment can mean so much to us. Someone has acknowledged our existance!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Thanks so much, Rayna! I really appreciate the award and your kind words.

I like your method of paying niceness forward. Now these strangers might do the same thing for someone else...making a ripple effect of kindness.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Mason Canyon said...

Here I was touched by your post. Even though it is a re-run, it was one I had not read. You had inspired me to give at least one compliment each. Then to be included with receiving the award from you, I'm honored. Thank you for the thoughtfulness and I'm looking forward to checking out the other links you posted that I haven't visited before. Hope you have a great day.

Thoughts in Progress

Unknown said...

Thank you so much, Rayna, my first new award. And perhaps I will take blogs from my old site and put it on my new one.


Grammy said...

Hi, Rayna,
I had not read this post before (of course, since i am new to your blog) and I enjoyed reading it so very much. I like reading about your city and country and learning more about the way of life there. Thank you for sharing.

Gutsy Living said...

I read your story about complimenting a stranger on your morning commute and could feel myself standing in a crowded train in Paris, which was the last train I took. Your style made it easy to read and feel the moment.
Then I came to the award part at the end, and felt a glow of happiness when I saw my name listed among the other bloggers. Thank you so much. Your kind words made my day.
Before I forget, do you read Miss Footloose's blog? Here is her link:

Her last story, which is in two parts, is about the act of kindness from a young African man in Uganda. I won't tell you more, but there's a point to this, that relates to your post.

Thanks Rayna.

Sueann said...

I like that idea. I was grocery shopping yesterday. Boring! But as I was walking out with my cart a lady stopped me and asked what scent I was wearing. She said is was so beautiful. I told her thanks and it made my day. I am still smiling!!
Congrats on your Sunshine Award!!

Jaydee Morgan said...

It's amazing what a kind word/gesture or simple compliment can do. Excellent post!


As I had not read this post before It was wonderful to read, to read about different cultures and countries is so interesting.

Congratulations to the award winners, well deserved.


Lisa said...

Rayna - you are definitely a ray of sunshine in the blogsphere. I love the range of topics you write about and appreciate your unique perspective on them.

Thank you too for the wonderfully kind words you left in my comments on my last post. They are sincerely appreciated. (see! you were being a ray of sunshine - AGAIN!! :O))

Anonymous said...

dear Rayna
You are too totally sweet to include me, when my blogs, compared with your prolific output, are so sporadic! I am nevertheless thrilled. Thank you.
When I first started to read the post I thought of the Hollywood movie 'Pay it Forward' which may not have been screened when you first wrote this: it gave a 'senior' role to Angie Dickinson (my generation!!) which she played gorgeously as a homeless woman blessed by a gift from an unknown stranger (a child). Your Mumbai train reminded me of London non-eye-contact, but I, too, like to do what you do - tho no longer living in a city. It does cause a ripple effect. As do you with your lovely writing. I'm honored to accept your sweet gift. Bless you and congrats on the A-to-Z award.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, my friend. I love the way you spread sunshine every day - whether on trains or via your blog! It's a delight to read.

Christine Danek said...

COngrats on the award! Your post made me smile. Nice job!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Thanks for the award, Rayna. It was a lovely thing to say and I’m truly flattered. I’m sure I’ll be smiling for the rest of the day now.

Marjorie said...

Beautiful piece of writing. Honestly I love to give people a smile or compliment. It's always good to pass on some sort of love in the world.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Congratulations to you, and thanks bunches for including me on the list, Rayna. Sunshine is something we need here in Colorado at the moment because it has turned gray and chilly. I treasure your kind comments.

Arlee Bird said...

I know about half of the award recipients and they are worthy choices-- I will have to check out the others that I don't know.

The way you describe people avoiding each other sounds common to where I am as well. A couple of times I've seen women wearing dresses that have really looked nice on them and have wanted to comment as such, but I refrain because I figure they will think I'm trying to hit on them or something like that so I keep quiet.

Tossing It Out

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post and excellent idea! Are you still doing this :) I think I'll try to get my students to do this very thing!

Unknown said...

Wonderful post and great idea of paying a compliment each day.

It's funny that your commute in Mumbai is so very similar to mine in New York City. :D

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous post :o) Since being in the country here in Oxford, I've noticed how people are more friendlier. Everyone waves as we pass each other while driving. And just walking down the street, people will smile and say Hello. So different to the city.

dipali said...

Thank you! I cannot imagine, now, not having you in my life:)
Serendipity rocks!

Natasha said...

@ Diane - so true.

@ Elizabeth - and wouldn't it be marvellous if that ripple effect sets off a tidal wave

@ Mason - you really deserve the award - your blog gives us so very much

@ Clarissa - that does make a lot of sense, doesn't it?

@ Grammy - you are not alone. I am pretty sure nobody has read this post before. For nearly a year, I had less than half a dozen readers!

@ Karen - people who know both cities do say that they are very similar. While not the most sociable person around, I could never quite get used to not making eye contact at all.

@ Sonia - thanks for another great link for me to check out. And you definitely deserve the award.

@ SueAnn - small and unexpected things make you smile all day long, don't they?

@ Jaydee - thank you.

@ Yvonne - thank you

@ Lisa - that is a wonderful thing to say. Now I am smiling away like a maniac

@ Marian - the Award was for wonderful people, and few are more wonderful than you. I am sure you cause ripple effects of happiness wherever you go

@ Fiona - and thank you.

@ Christine - thank you.

@ Jane - if that is all it takes to get you smiling, I will say it everytime I think it- then you will be smiling all the time

@ Marjorie - it is, isn't it. A smile costs nothign, but means so much

@ Patricia - I wish I could send you some of our physical sunshine too. We have more than enough here.

@ Lee - now, if a man gives a woman a compliment, it is almost certain to be misunderstood. Which is such a pity, because a compliment can be sincerely given with no ulterior motive at all.

@ Jami - yes, I try to pass on at least one compliment every day (have been doing it for many years now). Somedays, I don't manage, but on other days, I make up with more than one. And it is a great thing to get kids to started on. Let me know how it turns out.

@ Chary - the two cities are very similar, I believe.

@ Niki - that sounds so wonderful.

@ dipali - Serendipity rocks!!!


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